Eco-Friendly Food Packaging:
Here are 7 types of eco-friendly food packaging and 3 you should avoid at all costs!
- Entertaining guests can be an expensive affair – it’s difficult to please everyone’s tastes and avoid wasting food in the process.
- The first step to saving money and the environment is choosing eco-friendly food packaging, which reduces your carbon footprint without skimping on style or taste.
Unfortunately, plastics that are labeled BPA free may not be any better for you. Bisphenol A is an industrial chemical that makes plastics hard and rigid; as a result, it is often used in manufacturing baby bottles and containers.
While it hasn’t been proven that BPA itself is dangerous—the FDA has just said they have some concerns—there’s no reason to make yourself a test subject.
There are plenty of safe alternatives like glass containers and cardboard packaging out there, so try making your next trip plastic-free. It’ll be worth it! In addition to being harmful to animals, humans can suffer health problems from plastics too.
According to several studies by leading environmental organizations including Greenpeace and Healthearth Action network, chemicals from food packaging can leach into our food causing health issues like obesity and infertility.
Even if you don’t buy much packaged food, we suggest avoiding anything with a barcode for now until more research is done on their safety.
We also recommend using eco-friendly items such as cloth bags when going shopping instead of using single use plastic bags which can be very harmful both on land and sea once they start degrading after only months of use. It’s time to go green!
2. Glass Bottles
While glass bottles are generally easier and cheaper to recycle than plastic, they’re also heavier for shipping. Still, as you can see from our list, companies like Dannon and Stonyfield Farm have found ways to incorporate glass bottles into their packaging without sacrificing recyclability.
Glass is infinitely recyclable: It doesn’t take much energy or effort on your part, meaning you can feel good about doing your part for Mother Earth. And in some cases, glass is actually better for carrying food products:
Unlike plastics that leach BPA into packaged food over time and render them toxic, bottled water that’s packaged in glass does not pose any health risks at all.
Another plus: You can see through it! If you want to know what’s inside your bottle, glass is definitely a better choice than opaque plastic.
3. Tetra Pak
Tetra Pak is made from paperboard which has a minimal environmental impact when disposed of and is completely recyclable.
The cardboard cartons are easy to store and create a slim, lightweight package that takes up less space in your pantry or refrigerator.
This type of packaging is ideal for storing soups, dairy products, juices, pasta sauces and more. It’s also an excellent option for long-distance shipping since it requires no refrigeration until after it’s opened by customers.
If you do decide to use plastic containers, make sure they’re BPA free. BPA stands for bisphenol A, a chemical used in plastics that some studies have linked to negative health effects.
While there’s still debate about whether BPA is harmful, it can be avoided by choosing reusable food storage containers instead of disposable ones.
4. Paper Bags
Not All Paper Bags Are Created Equal: Many restaurants have shifted from traditional plastic or paper bags for takeout orders to light brown Kraft paper,
because it’s seen as more eco-friendly. That might be true compared with single-use plastic bags, but it’s not so great when you consider that Kraft paper products are often lined with a thin layer of plastic that isn’t recyclable.
Plus, they’re usually treated with chemicals such as chlorine and benzoyl peroxide. If you must use a bag for your food, opt for one made out of heavier waxed paper instead.
And if you’re taking food home? Just ask if they can put it in your own containers; many businesses will oblige. It’s also smart to keep a stash of reusable produce bags on hand.
5. Foil Pouches/Aluminum Pans
For most food products, aluminum pans are 100% recyclable and actually contribute to a decrease in greenhouse gas emissions when you consider all factors.
On top of that, aluminum cans don’t contribute to eutrophication or acidification which makes them much better for our oceans and lakes than plastic packaging.
Foil pouches/baggies can be recycled as well—even after they’ve been used for frozen foods! This is because foil is recyclable almost everywhere without a process called can-crushing.
With can crushing, recycled aluminum is made into beer cans and other smaller cans instead of being remade into sheets.
Unfortunately, many municipalities do not have recycling facilities equipped with can crushers so these types of containers often end up in landfills. If your municipality does have facilities with can crushers, then by all means use those bags/pouches!
But if not, it might be worth looking into some eco-friendly alternatives like compostable cups and plates or reusable containers. The best option for avoiding disposable containers altogether is BYOB (bring your own container).
6. Wooden Boards
While traditional plastics and glass can certainly be recycled, wooden boards make reusing easier. In fact, when you’re finished with your product, you can plant a tree in it!
If a manufacturer uses these materials for food packaging, they’ll often use unbleached corrugated cardboard as an eco-friendly alternative to plastic or Styrofoam.
The paper comes from sustainable forests and biodegrades in landfills. These containers make eco-friendly food packaging easy because they’re stackable and lightweight—so transportation is cheap and efficient.
Not all products are suitable for packaging in wooden containers—for example, it would be difficult for a company like Hershey’s to package its chocolates in boxes made out of trees.
7. Loose Fruits/Vegetables
Loose fruits and vegetables are far better for the environment than their packaged counterparts. Loose produce often goes bad quickly, which reduces food waste and environmental costs associated with packaging.
Additionally, loose produce costs less—you don’t have to spend extra money on packaging that may or may not be reused in your kitchen.
As more people catch on, you can expect loose fruits and vegetables to become increasingly common. In fact, some grocery stores already offer them. If yours doesn’t, ask why! You might just inspire a change.